Justin Hodge

Marrs Ellis & Hodge LLP
500 Dallas Street, Suite 1350
Houston, TX 77002

Justin Hodge is Texas trial lawyer who represents landowners against the government and other condemning authorities in condemnation lawsuits. He teaches a course on eminent domain and land takings at the University of Houston School of Law and has testified before the Texas Legislature to promote eminent-domain reform.  Mr. Hodge is recognized as a Super Lawyer in Eminent Domain by Super Lawyers Magazine.

Mr. Hodge represents landowners in condemnation proceedings, not the governmental authorities or private companies taking property. Mr. Hodge has won cases for landowners at every level: administrative hearings, jury trials, and appeals in state and federal courts. Mr. Hodge’s cases have involved takings of vacant land and ranches as well as highly improved properties with office buildings, shopping centers, restaurants, motels, banks, churches, c-stores, mines, quarries, and residential subdivisions. He has shown his skill both as a negotiator and as a courtroom advocate.

Mr. Hodge has handled complex condemnation and eminent-domain cases throughout the State of Texas including the communities of Austin, Baytown, Bastrop, Bellmead, Bruceville-Eddy, Cleburne, Conroe, Corpus Christi, Denton, Decatur, Belton, Georgetown, Dallas, Elm Mott, Fort Worth, Hillsboro, Hewitt, Houston, Lampasas, Leander, Mansfield, McKinney, Killeen, Round Rock, Robinson, Rogers, Salado, San Antonio, Seguin, Shenandoah, Troy, Tomball, Waco, The Woodlands, and Wichita Falls, Texas. Mr. Hodge has appeared in condemnation and eminent-domain lawsuits in Bastrop County, Bell County, Bexar County, Brazoria County, Chambers County, Collin County, Comanche County, Dallas County, Denton County, Erath County, Fort Bend County, Guadalupe County, Grimes County, Harris County, Hill County, Lampasas County, Leon County, Montague County, Montgomery County, McLennan County, Tarrant County, Travis County, and Williamson County. He has defended landowners against the Texas Attorney General’s office, pipeline companies, electric transmission line companies, school districts, cities, and counties. Mr. Hodge has offices in Austin, Texas (by appointment only) and Houston, Texas.

Both Mr. Hodge’s father and grandfather were Texas cattlemen and ranchers. His family has lived in Texas for nearly two centuries and is listed amongst members of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, direct descendants of those that settled the Republic of Texas. Understandably, he is passionate about Texas property rights. He has testified on Texas condemnation and eminent-domain reform on behalf of Texas landowners in front of both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate. He also writes a weekly blog at TexasCondemnation.com. His blog educates landowners about current Texas condemnation and eminent-domain issues.

In 1999, Mr. Hodge received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and Applied Economics from Texas Tech University. At Texas Tech, Mr. Hodge taught as a teaching assistant in Farm and Ranch Management. In 2002, he graduated from the University of Texas School of Law, where he was a member of the Texas Review of Law and Politics. During law school, he served as a law clerk in the General Counsel’s Office of then-Governor George W. Bush. From 2008 to 2010, 2013, and 2017 Super Lawyers Magazine: Thomas Rueters and the publishers of Texas Monthly Magazine recognized Mr. Hodge as a “Rising Star” in eminent domain.  Mr. Hodge was recently recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine: Thomas Rueters and the publishers of Texas Monthly Magazine as a Super Lawyer in Eminent Domain.

Mr. Hodge is involved in several professional organizations, including the Christian Legal Society (where he served as vice president of the Houston chapter in 2008 to 2009), Young Lawyer’s Steering Committee (chairing the U.S. Supreme Court Subcommittee from 2007 to 2008), the Defense Research Institute, the American Bar Association, Texas Young Lawyers Association, the Houston Bar Association, the Houston Young Lawyers Association, the Texas Farm Bureau, and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Mr. Hodge has been a licensed salesman and real estate broker since 1999.

Mr. Hodge and his family live in Houston and are actively involved in their church. He and his wife Courtney are celebrating thirteen years of marriage this year and they have been blessed with four beautiful children.

B.S., Agriculture and Applied Economics, Texas Tech University, 1999.
J.D., University of Texas School of Law, 2002.

Representative Matters
In a recent jury trial in Bell County, Texas, represented owners of an industrial property against a taking by the State of Texas.   The taking was to widen IH-35, which impacted not only the part taken but also the landowners’ remaining property. The State’s taking caused safety issues related to forklifts, delivery trucks, semi-trucks, and retail customers. The State argued for just compensation of $74,875. The jury rejected the State’s argument and awarded just compensation of $508,548. This was the exact amount of just compensation testified to by the landowner’s expert appraiser, Josh Korman.  The case is currently pending Final Judgment.

In a jury trial in Johnson County, Texas, represented a property owner against a taking by Peregrine Pipeline Company. The taking was an approximately 2.9445 easement out of an approximate 400.836 acre tract of land with previous multiple pipeline easements and an oil and gas lease. The pipeline company offered $79,979 as just compensation, but the jury awarded over $1.6 million as just compensation, including damages.

In a jury trial in Bell County, Texas, represented a property owner against a taking by the State of Texas. The taking was to widen IH-35 and build a large rest stop, which impacted not only the surface but also the landowner’s water wells. The jury awarded $5.8 million as total just compensation, with a net to the client of over $3 million after fees and expenses.

Represented a landowner in a jury trial in Conroe, Texas against a taking by a local governmental authority. The taking involved issues related to the impact of a high-pressure gas pipeline on property and detention requirements by condemning authority, and Mr. Hodge’s responsibilities included giving the opening statement and cross-examining a key fact witness.

In a jury trial in Houston, represented a hedge fund against a taking of a country club in Clear Lake, Texas by a local governmental authority, resulting in a finding that the condemning authority’s action in deciding to take the property was arbitrary, capricious, and fraudulent. The case is currently on appeal.

Represented numerous of landowners as lead counsel against the State of Texas’s widening of IH-35.

Represented numerous landowners as lead counsel against Seaway Pipeline’s taking of its Seaway pipeline in Leon, Grimes, and Chambers Counties.

Represented property owner as lead counsel on State of Texas’s widening of US-290 in Harris County, Texas.

Represented property owner in Tarrant County, Texas against the City of Fort Worth’s, the State of Texas’s, and North Texas Toll Authority’s Southwest Parkway project.

Served on several trial teams representing property owners against the State of Texas’s widening of IH-10 in Harris County, Texas.

Represented landowners against the State of Texas’s widening of 635 in Dallas County, Texas.

Represented property owners against the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority’s expansion of METRO rail lines.

Worked on trial teams in the Harris County Courts at Law to represent landowners against the State of Texas’s widening of IH-10.

Served as first chair in a variety of special commissioners’ hearings and took dozens of fact-witness and expert-witness depositions.

“Homeowners Flooded by Water Release of Barker-Addicks Dam,” Houston Chapter of the Appraisal Institute, September 2018.

“Legal Impacts of Hurricane Harvey Ongoing Barker Addicks Takings Litigation Against the Government by Flooded Home and Business Owners,” CLE International’s Houston Eminent Domain Conference, May 2018 (Program Co-Chair).

“Understanding Utility Easements and Rights of Way,” Boundaries and Easements, HalfMoon Education, Inc., June 2018.

“Groundwater Law: The Ancient Rule of Capture and the Modern Accommodation Doctrine,” Texas Bar Journal , Vol. 80, No. 11, December 2017 (coauthor).

“Understanding Utility Easements and Rights of Way,” Land and Water Law: Ownership and Access Conference, HalfMoon Education, Inc., December 2016.

“Texas’ Yellow-Brick Road to Acquiring Common-Carrier Status,” (coauthor), Real Estate, Condemnation, and Trust Litigation: American Bar Association Section of Litigation, Summer 2015, Vo. 13, No. 2.

“Enjoyment and Preservation of Property: The Great and Chief End of Government,” ALI-CLE; The American Law Institute, San Francisco, California, February 2015.

“Property Damages: Valuing Property Rights in Condemnation, Groundwater, and Oil-and-Gas Disputes,” (coauthor), State Bar of Texas, Damages in Civil Litigation, 2014.

“Landownership as a Keystone Right: Five Issues in Condemnation for Pipeline Easements,” Ernest E. Smith Oil, Gas and Mineral Law Institute and Fundamentals Conference, University of Texas Law CLE, 2013.

“Texas Eminent Domain: Practices and Procedures for Energy Infrastructure,” Austin Bar Association, Oil Gas Mineral Law Section, 2012.

“Expert Challenges in an Eminent Domain Case: Robinson/Daubert Analyses; Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice; Project Influence” (coauthor), CLE International, 2010

“The Fundamentals of Eminent Domain,” Ector County Bar Association, January 2010.

“Conservation or Preservation Easements: Answering Highest and Best Use and Valuation Issues When Dealing With Encumbered Property” (coauthor), ALI-ABA, January 2008.

“Can Communications Between an Accountant and Client Be Privileged? How to Make Use of This Narrow Evidentiary Rule,” Defense Research Institute, Young Lawyers Compendium, 2008.

“The Law of Eminent Domain—State of Texas” (coauthor), ABA Section of Litigation—Condemnation Zoning and Land Use Litigation, 2007.

“Recent Developments in Products, General Liability, and Consumer Law” (coauthor), Tort Trial & Ins. Prac. L.J., Winter 2007.